Is Choc Nut Still the King of Chocolate-Peanut Candies? We Try Seven Brands to Find OutSeptember 29, 2018
The Filipino love for peanuts finds one of its best expressions in local chocolate-peanut candies: confections often comprised of a combo of ground peanuts, cocoa, milk powder, and sugar, pressed into bite-sized bars that shatter on the tongue. Though loosely comparable to Reese’s, these candies fall in a league of their own, flaunting a decidedly crumbly consistency and more rustic-tasting interpretation of the flavor duo. Local brand Chocnut is often heralded as the best-known (and possibly the original) brand, but over the years more brands have sprouted their own versions of the classic confection. How do they compare?
Barnut gives you the flattest pieces of the lot and is just a tad moist enough that you can pick it up whole, but shatters on contact and dissolves easily in the mouth. Past the fattiness of the ground nuts, you get powdery consistency that’s cool on the tongue, with few sugar granules and tiny nut particles that add interest. Just above the mid-level of sweet, it flaunts a mostly peanutty flavor profile made creamier by powdered milk. Though it’s barely chocolatey, it finishes on a peculiar coconut-tinged, fake vanilla note that can feel a tad metallic but isn’t unpleasant.
Sweetness: 3.5/5 | Depth of roast: 2.5/5 | Chocolatiness: 2/5 | Density: 2.5/5
Chatlet’s version is notably damp and dense, almost akin to halva, making it easy to pick up and even chew on—it’s squidgy, rather than crumbly, and reveals a ground peanutty grit and a few sugar crystals as it melts. More peanutty than sugary, you get a distinctive nuttiness comparable to American-style peanut butter. Enriching the fattiness of the nuts and helping lay down a creamy background is powdered milk, which also eases the transition into the mid-level cocoa-y depth that deepens the whole mix.
Sweetness: 2/5 | Depth of roast: 3.5/5 | Chocolatiness: 3/5 | Density: 4/5
This iconic brand (or the version available today, though—along with the change of ownership—some also note the taste to have differed over the years) gives you a consistency that’s far more on the dry, delicate end of the spectrum. Crumbly at the onset, it dissolves right upon contact with the tongue and reveals a fine, powdery consistency that’s mostly uniform save for nano-sized sugar crystals for crunch. It’s on the sweeter side but gently introduces nuttiness, with the distinct depth of flavor of skin-on roasted peanuts; the cocoa comes as but a whisper, but the subtlety works to enhance the said peanutty depth and contributes a dusky feel without taking over.
Sweetness: 4/5 | Depth of roast: 3.5/5 | Chocolatiness: 3/5 | Density: 1/5
At the onset, Chocomani appears to veer close toward dense, damp category like Chatlet, but reveals its lighter, looser, more powdery interior as it melts on the tongue. With the occasional nutty grit to break from its mostly uniform consistency, it’s just on the mid-level of sweet, with ample richness and earthiness to balance out the sugar. It hits all the right notes flavor-wise: you a great roasted-peanut depth bolstered by cocoa, evened out with (and given creaminess by) powdered milk.
Sweetness: 2.5/5 | Depth of roast: 3.5/5 | Chocolatiness: 4/5 | Density: 3.5/5
Choc-O-Star’s version is dry, powdery, and especially fragile; though it holds together and feels a touch more solid than Choc Nut, it’s practically impossible to get a piece out of its package without it crumbling into a fine powder. Peanutty in a standard, mildly-roasted way, it’s just a degree above being mid-sweet. Though not particularly chocolatey, you get a whisper of fake vanilla (plus what seems to be a fruity, caramelized-sugar note) that accentuates the cocoa, and helps balance out the sweetness.
Sweetness: 3.5/5 | Depth of roast: 2.5/5 | Chocolatiness: 2/5 | Density: 2/5
Thought to be Choc Nut’s top rival (despite now being manufactured by the same company), Hany gives you a similar dry, powdery consistency that’s mostly uniformly fine aside from the (rare, but present) sugar crystals and peanutty grit. It’s also on the sweet side, with sugar fronting the taste sensation before the peanut follows through shortly. Though also very similar to Choc Nut in flavor, the peanut is given a slightly more mellow interpretation here, being of a less dark roast; there also seems to be a degree less of chocolate in the backdrop. This is not necessarily a bad thing however, as it lets the natural buttery flavor of the nuts to come through.
Sweetness: 4/5 | Depth of roast: 3/5 | Chocolatiness: 3/5 | Density: 1/5
Queen Mani’s bars are smaller but thicker, with a moist, dense consistency of a mostly uniform consistency (despite a few teensy, gnaw-able nut granules here and there) like Chatlet’s. You get a strong peanut flavor, also of the especially deep-tasting, roasted skin-on peanut sort. Beyond that, these bars offers a relatively strong dose of chocolate that gives it a robust feel and beautifully harmonizes with the roasty hum of the nuts.
Sweetness: 2/5 | Depth of roast: 4.5/5 | Chocolatiness: 4/5 | Density: 4/5
The Verdict: Chocomani
Choc Nut and Hany no doubt holds its place in our hearts, if only out of nostalgia, but we kept an open mind in tasting the alternatives available today. Taking texture alone, we’re all about Choc Nut’s and Hany’s light, powdery consistency; with the former especially, there’s just something about the distinctive way it melts in the mouth, leaving behind the teensiest of sugar granules for a light crunch. Taste-wise however, we’re better enamored by the likes of Queen Mani, whose rich and especially roasty, nutty profile (and relatively potent dose of chocolate) takes the Filipino-style chocolate-peanut combo to newer heights. In the end, our overall top vote goes to Chocomani for offering the best of both worlds: great flavor balance with just-right sweetness and rich, complex flavor profile (which is just a touch less dark than Queen Mani’s but is stellar nonetheless), but also a balanced texture that’s packed and slightly gritty but light as it melts on the tongue.